As if Judy Craymer, the brain behind Mamma Mia!, weren’t rich enough, she can now look forward to another windfall thanks to Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks. Hanks’ production company Playtone has bought the rights to turn the blockbuster Abba musical into a film, which is expected to hit cinemas by the end of 2007. British playwright Catherine Johnson, who wrote the book for the stage show, will also write the screenplay. And, while the stage musical has always relied on the allure of Abba’s pop classics - such as "Dancing Queen", “Thank You for the Music”, "Take a Chance on Me" and the title song - rather than stars, Craymer says the screen version is likely to boast some big names, à la the movie of Kander and Ebb’s Chicago, which starred Renee Zellwegger, Catherine Zeta Jones and Richard Gere. Set on a Greek island, Mamma Mia! centres on young Sophie who, preparing for her wedding day, has invited three of her mother's ex-lovers in an attempt to discover the identity of her father. Mamma Mia! had its world premiere at the West End’s Prince Edward Theatre in April 1999 and, after five years, moved to the refurbished Prince of Wales in May 2004. Since opening in London, the musical has gone on to become a global phenomenon with currently 11 productions around the world including on Broadway, in Las Vegas and on an international tour. It has been seen by more than 24 million people in over 115 cities. In a statement released today, Craymer said: “The film has always been a twinkle in our eye but I’ve been so busy concentrating on the stage productions around the world that I’ve not had time to think about it, until now. The time felt right and the partnership with Gary Goetzman and Tom Hanks helped everything fall into place.” The success of the stage show has already propelled Craymer into the Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated worth of £67 million. The film can surely only increase that fortune. “Money Money Money” indeed!
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